The United Arab Emirates’ first-ever ambassador to Israel arrived in the country on Monday as the two countries continue to advance the normalization agreement they signed last year.
Mohammad Mahmoud Al Khajah will spend several days in the country, during which time he will reportedly meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior officials, as well as scout out suitable locations for the embassy and his home.
Al Khajah, who came with a small team of staffers, was scheduled to meet with Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and also to present his credentials to President Reuven Rivlin in an official ceremony at the President’s House.
The ambassador arrived in a private jet and, in keeping with Israel’s Health Ministry policy, immediately underwent a coronavirus test. He will remain at a hotel until the test is confirmed negative and then continue with the meetings set up for the day, Hebrew-language media reported.
On Tuesday he will meet with Netanyahu.
Israel and the UAE normalized ties last September with the signing of the so-called Abraham Accords at the White House in Washington, in a deal brokered by then-US president Donald Trump’s administration. Bahrain also joined the accords, establishing ties with Israel.
Earlier this month, Al Khajah was sworn in by UAE Prime Minister Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Al Khajah has met with Israel’s temporary ambassador in the UAE Eitan Na’eh, who is stationed in Abu Dhabi. The Israeli embassy is currently working from a temporary office until a permanent location can be found.
He has also met with Zvi Heifetz, Israel’s special envoy to the Gulf States, the Walla news website reported last week.
Al Khajah has opened a Twitter account that posts messages in both English and Hebrew. So far he has gained nearly 30,000 followers.
The UAE embassy to Israel also already has a Twitter account, opened this month.
Although the exchange of embassies has progressed, a visa waiver agreement for travelers between Israel and the UAE has been held up due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier this month, Netanyahu postponed what would have been his first official visit to the UAE since the establishment of official diplomatic relations, and no future date has yet been announced. The Prime Minister’s Office said at the time that the decision to postpone the trip indefinitely was made due to the closing down of air travel to and from Israel, as part of a national lockdown aimed at preventing coronavirus infections arriving from abroad.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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